Teams doing late homework on Oregon pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux

Teams doing late homework on Oregon pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux

The 2022 NFL Draft is just two days away, and the news and rumors are flying around the league. Here’s the latest we’re hearing on Kayvon Thibodeaux, Trevor Penning, and others in the lead-up to one of the league’s premier events.

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Where will Kayvon Thibodeaux ultimately be selected in the 2022 NFL Draft?

oregon star pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux is one of 2022’s most dynamic NFL Draft prospects. However, Thibodeaux’s ultimate landing spot is also one of the most unpredictable scenarios to watch during Thursday night’s first round.

Once projected as the top overall pick, Thibodeaux’s ceiling and floor have run the gamut across draft boards around the league. One team source predicted that Thibodeaux could slide a bit and still land somewhere in the first 10 selections.

NFL teams are continuing to conduct their due diligence and get to know more about the ultra-athletic Los Angeles native and consensus All-American. That includes the New York Giants, who are also extremely interested in at least two other players at their draft spot, according to sources: Florida State pass rusher Jermaine Johnson II, a Georgia transfer who had 11.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss; and Mississippi State offensive tackle Charles Crossone of the most polished and athletic blockers in this year’s class.

The Giants conducted a Zoom meeting with Thibodeaux last week, according to a league source. He previously visited them at their training facility, as he did with the Detroit Lions, New York Jets, Houston Texans, and Philadelphia Eagles. The Atlanta Falcons traveled to the West Coast to meet with Thibodeaux after initially attempting to schedule him for a visit.

Thibodeaux is using outside noise as motivational fuel

Thibodeaux recorded 126 career tackles, 19 sacks, and 35.5 tackles for loss in three seasons for Oregon.

“The most ridiculous thing I’ve heard is that I’m not the best player in this draft,” Thibodeaux told reporters at the Oregon Pro Day. “I really don’t listen to anything else, but that to me, that’s outrageous. With the film, with the numbers and what I can do, as far as my ability, I have confidence in what I can do.”

Thibodeaux validated what the film shows — rare athleticism and ability to contort his body and convert speed to power. At 6-foot-5, 258 pounds, Thibodeaux has run the 40-yard dash in 4.58 seconds and bench pressed 225 pounds 27 times.

His pro day was attended by Lions general manager Brad Holmes, Giants general manager Joe Schoen, and Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider.

Thibodeaux is a disruptive pass rusher and run stopper coming off the edge. He operates with heavy hands and is difficult to move at the point of attack. He’s a natural pass rusher who has the skills to harass quarterbacks consistently.

Thibodeaux is using any criticism as motivational fuel.

“I love it,” Thibodeaux said. “As long as people are talking about me and I consistently stay [true] to who I am and I know that I’m doing everything in my power to do things the right way and talk to the coaches and I’m creating a relationship and doing the things with the coaches, I let the media run wild. You guys can make what you want, it just gets me more followers.”

What teams are interested in OT Trevor Penning?

NFL teams covet a nasty, aggressive presence at the line of scrimmage. That personifies what Northern Iowa left offensive tackle Trevor Penning is all about — the overpowering 6-foot-7, 329-pound lineman body-slammed defensive linemen at the Senior Bowl.

He visited the Baltimore Ravens and the Tennessee Titans, according to league sources.

Where will Penning ultimately be selected in the 2022 NFL Draft? The Ravens (who draft 14th overall), the Carolina Panthers (in a trade-back scenario moving back from their current No. 6 overall selection), the Titans, and even the Kansas City Chiefs (should they trade up) were all referenced as potential destinations for Penning, according to sources.

“The Panthers love Penning,” a source said. “He’s also a Ravens type of guy with a similar type of tough-guy attitude to Marshal Yanda.”

Penning patterns his game after Titans offensive tackle Taylor Lewan, who plays the game with a similar style.

“We were watching NFL film and trying to learn how to do wide-zone and watched Taylor Lewan and Rodger Saffold a lot,” Penning said during the Senior Bowl. “They were mauling people. It was really fun to watch.”

A three-year starter, Penning can block on the move at the second level. He’s also a powerful drive blocker who has bulked up and added nearly 100 pounds since enrolling in college as a freshman.

His ambition is simple: be a first-round draft pick.

“It’s definitely my goal and a possibility,” Penning said. “It’s been a really awesome experience. I’ve got to keep improving every day to get there. It’s been good. I just keep playing my game. I’m not worried too much about feedback. I just ball out.”

Stock rising for Arkansas DT John Ridgeway

One of the biggest defensive tackles in the draft, Arkansas standout John Ridgeway boosted his stock significantly during the Senior Bowl. He displayed strength, aggressiveness, quickness, and an ability to anchor the line of scrimmage and shed blocks to penetrate the backfield.

Ridgeway, who has bench pressed 225 pounds 25 times and has an 81 1/2″ wingspan, has had multiple Zoom meetings. He’s met virtually with the Giants, Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos, Titans, and Miami Dolphins, according to a league source.

Ridgeway is a former all-conference and freshman All-American selection at Illinois State, where he had 102 tackles (8 for loss) before transferring to Arkansas. He could go as early as the fourth round, depending on how the draft unfolds, per a source.

The 6-foot-5, 321-pound Illinois State transfer recorded 39 tackles (4 for loss) and 2 sacks for the Razorbacks last season.

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